Ely is an unassuming place. It doesn’t shout about itself. But it should. The city has a right to be proud of its amazing markets and we want more of you to come and experience them.
The market has been around for the last 800 years. But just lately something has changed. A quiet revolution is taking place. It’s not just a nice place to come and potter around. It’s becoming a real destination – the foodie capital of the Fens.
The weekly Saturday craft and food market is the jewel in the crown. It’s packed with delicious food, interesting crafts and vintage collectables. On the 2nd and 4th of every month its ranks are also swelled by the farmers’ market.
Here are ten reasons you should visit Ely’s Saturday market.
Cheese and wine
Susannah of Hum-Closen is a newcomer to the market, but she’s already causing a stir with her beautiful collection of cheese and wine. Try a glorious bit of Roquefort or the perfect Comte – washed down with a glass of bone-dry, cloudy Prosecco. Or, if English cheese is more your thing, visit the Lincolnshire Poacher Stall. Get everything you need for a perfect cheeseboard.
The best dumplings in Ely (and possibly the world?)
The I Am Dumpling stall is street food at its very best. While your dumplings steam listen as Andrew sets the world to rights. After working in Asia for 30 years he really knows his stuff. For just £3 you’ll get a plate of delicious meat or vegetarian dumplings. The sweet, sticky buns are also gorgeous!
Authentic Mexican food
The Al Chile van is a little bit of Mexico, plonked down in the middle of Ely. Forget what you think you know about Mexican food. This is fresh, healthy and light. Try a proper Mexican pulled pork Taco, or an authentic burrito. The perfect place to eat as a family.
Ely’s famers’ market has a strong vegan presence – so much so that it’s now affectionately referred to as Vegan Alley. Audrey’s Cakes are delicious, as are Lizzi’s ‘eggless’ scotch eggs. On the Luxury Vegan Samosa Company stall, Sudesh creates the most wonderful samosas – freshly cooked while you watch. They are genuinely the nicest samosas I’ve ever eaten.
You can’t leave the market without trying one. One highlight is newcomer George’s Bakery – a young baker makes a delicious selection of cakes and quiches. The Dessert Man also offers a rather special millionaire’s shortbread and enough varieties of cheesecake to, well, start a market stall. Audrey’s cakes get another mention here – you’d never realise they were vegan!
The Ely Gin Company started life five years ago on Ely market. They still have a stall every Saturday, but have also expanded into a shop nearby. They specialise in fruit gins – everything from the traditional sloe to black cherry. Their latest gin is marmalade flavour. Obviously, I had to try some and can report that it’s very nice indeed. They also sell some of the most interesting tonic I’ve ever seen! Visit their stall on the market for generous samples.
Fresh local produce and new discoveries
The Farmers’ market is full of local, seasonal produce. From quality meat, bread and fish to early pink rhubarb. There’s also always something new to try. On my last visit, I tried Kombucha for the first time. Never heard of it? Well, it’s fermented green tea. Esther brews Cha Kombucha from her home in Cambridge. Try a sample – it’ll definitely kick-start a few conversations.
Jams and Chutneys
Traditional market fair, but yet again, Ely offers a fresh approach. Amanda at the Cambridge Preserves Kitchen has the most delicious stall of jams and chutney. My favourite was the pear and lavender jam, which would be stunning in a Victoria sandwich. A few steps away, Madame Sunshine is ready with a smile and her fiery sauces.
The Deli which is still part of the market
The Lemon Tree Deli and Cafe on the marketplace gets a special mention here. Debbie and her husband have recently made the move from market stall to permanent shop. They sell beautiful local cheese and do a lovely cheese scone.
The best flat white in Ely
The Silveroak Coffee stall serves the best coffee in Ely. It’s a bit of a well-kept secret. Relax at one of their tables and watch the market bustle around you. Bruce sources the finest beans and roasts them just outside Ely. Their flat whites are my weekly treat and worth waiting for.
If you can tear yourself away from the gorgeous good, there’s also a brilliant selection of stalls selling vintage collectables, second-hand books and crafts. The best thing? The stall holders love to haggle and it’s worth a trip to discover some great finds. You can also pick up a bunch of beautiful and well-priced flowers while you’re at it!
Ely markets take place on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The best way to travel to Ely is by train. The market is just a 15-minute walk from the railway station. More information on the markets can be found here.
Why not come and join us on Sunday 30th April and Monday 1st May for the Ely Vegan & Vintage Fair?
A big thank you to Ely Markets for inviting me on a tour of the market! It was fun being a tourist in my own city.